The California Fisheries Fund (CFF) launched in 2008 as a public-private initiative aimed at demonstrating how to make financial investments in a growing, sustainable commercial fishing industry. Since then, CFF has operated as a nonprofit revolving loan fund, extending 34 loans totaling more than $4.2 million.
CFF’s initial business model proposed that loans would be made to associations of fishermen who would conduct research and planning to develop better fisheries management structures. However, such associations did not develop as quickly as anticipated, and CFF sought out alternate borrowers. CFF was the first lender to accept Pacific groundfish quota as collateral. For fishermen, using quota as collateral presents a powerful new opportunity to access capital.
CFF has demonstrated that the fishing industry can be financially viable and bankable but has also uncovered challenges regarding the size of the investment opportunity and financial viability of such a fund. During this session we will address some key questions regarding how and when to deploy financial return-seeking capital to accelerate the transition to sustainable fisheries: What are the critical enabling conditions that facilitate financial investment? How do you identify or develop viable investible entities with a track record of success? How can different forms of capital be paired or blended to achieve the desired outcome? Given the lack of profitable fisheries investment fund models, what are the right models for achieving impact?